Prepare for playful poetry when your child writes a pantoum poem! Pantoums are poems based on a type of Asian poetry, and made up of a series of quatrains. Practice rhythm and rhyme with your child by using these step-by-step directions for pantoum poetry.
Explain to your child that “pantoums” are a kind of poem made up of quatrains (a quatrain is a group of four lines in a poem that go together). In a pantoum, the second stanza repeats the first stanza’s 2nd and 4th lines; they become the 1st and 3rd lines of the next stanza. For example:
The furry fluffy pillow puff,
My dog with giant eyes,
Sits on the blanket, softly rough,
And sighs a happy sigh.
My dog with giant eyes (repeated)
Curls up into a ball
And sighs a happy sigh (repeated)
That seems to say it all.
If another stanza were to come next in the above pantoum poem, the next stanza would start with the line: “Curls up into a ball,” then would have a new 2nd line, then repeat “That seems to say it all,” and then have a new 4th line. A pantoum poem can continue in this way for as many stanzas as your child wants to write!
Have your child brainstorm some topic ideas for his pantoum poem (a pet, a favorite part of nature, a season of the year, a favorite holiday, etc.) and then start writing lines and stanzas.
Let your child know that pantoum poems do not have to rhyme, which may make the writing easier for him. Rhyming is optional.
Have your child read the poem aloud during the writing (to feel the rhythm of his words) and when he is finished writing it. He may wish to draw an illustration to go with the poem. Let him perform a pantoum poetry reading, and enjoy his creativity!
Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.